With wildfires raging more than ever due to climate change, we need specialized and highly trained firefighters to suppress them. Forest firefighters are the thrill-seekers, analyzers and humanitarians risking their lives every day to keep us and our wildlands safe.
Forest firefighters extinguish, control and contain wildfires using complex equipment and dangerous maneuvers, like parachuting directly into fires from a helicopter. They need to be in excellent physical shape and able to carry loads of over 45 lbs. for extended periods. They also rescue fire victims and administer first aid, maintain equipment, analyze weather to predict fire behavior, and conduct fire prevention education programs.
They work for state or federal government agencies like the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management, with requirements varying by agency. They generally have a high school diploma combined with on-the-job training, while some may need an associate’s degree in forestry, fire science, or a related field. All prospective firefighters must pass a physical exam and a fitness test. Most are also certified emergency medical technicians (EMTs). The need for forest firefighters is high, with jobs expected to grow 6% by 2029.